Prohibit jailing those who can't afford bail?

Jan 25, 2018

Rep. Brian Stone is the primary sponsor of a new bill, HB 1395, that requires courts to consider the financial resources of a person when setting bail. Under the bill, a judge could not jail someone just because he or she does not have money to pay bail. Instead, a judge could only jail a defendant if the judge finds by a "preponderance of the evidence" – at least 50% - that the person is a danger to the community or likely to miss the court date. Read more about this issue

Should there be a law against jailing a person because they cannot afford bail, so long as the person is not a danger to the community or likely to skip court?

Discussion held on Citizens Count NH website and Facebook page January 10, 2018

201 citizens responded106 citizens were in favor of prohibiting jailing those who can't pay bail69 citizens were against prohibiting jailing those who cannot afford bail26 citizens said other

What Participants Said

Yes: 106 people were in favor of prohibiting jailing a person because they cannot afford bail.

  • “We are not supposed to be running debtor's prisons. Keep them in jail if they are a danger to others. If not, don't force taxpayers to house and feed them, and don't force those charged to lose their jobs if they have them.”
  • “Bail should not be a punishment. A person should not serve time (almost a year wait for trial in most cases) just because they can't afford bail. They have not been convicted yet.”
  • “Yes, you are supposed the innocent until proven guilty. Jailing someone before trial is wrong.”

No: 69 people were against prohibiting jailing a person because they cannot afford bail.

  • “Don't need more laws, just don't get nasty when judges exercise judgement. If someone cannot afford bail, just waive bail. This is not rocket science.”
  • “No. If you can't afford it too bad. There's a reason you were arrested. Maybe if you want to avoid sitting in a cell you should avoid illegal activities.”
  • “No. Don't get arrested.  Why require one person to pay bail but not someone else? Ridiculous.”

Other: 26 citizens addressed their comments to related questions and issues.
These included:

  • Employment: “Broke in this economy? This economy is booming for anyone who wants to work. So much help wanted out there.”
  • Additional factors: “All depends on the charge.”
  • Bail in general: “Sounds like the real question then is what is the point of bail?”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes.

Read the full Facebook discussion of this question.

Click here for details on our methodology

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Related Bill

HB 1395 (2018)
Bill Status: Interim Study
Hearing date: Jan 24, 2018

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